Church Sign: “Welcome! We are heavily armed!

Since it’s Sunday… a friend forwarded this to me from Right Wing News:

Tampa church warns: We are armed & ready to use deadly force if a shooter attacks us

The churchgoers at River at Tampa Bay Church are taking their safety in their own hands and warning potential criminals who wish to do them harm that they are not going to be messed with.

This practically assures that they are never going to be the victims of a mass shooting that takes place at a church like what happened in Sutherland Springs, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina.

A sign – placed at the property about a year ago – issues a warning to everyone who reads it, but especially those who are thinking of doing something stupid inside the church.

“Welcome to the River at Tampa Bay Church – right of admission reserved – this is private property,” it reads.” “WARNING: Please know this is not a gun free zone – we are heavily armed – any attempt will be dealt with deadly force – yes we are a church and we will protect our people.”

That’s one way to approach the issue.

Another approach is this…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Going Ballistic, Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, The Religion of Peace and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. tominrichmond says:

    It is perhaps fitting to note, as we near Thanksgiving, a tradition originating not with the Puritans of New England but with the Cavaliers of Virginia, that in 1619 Virginia passed the first statute in the colonies that provided that when attending church, “all suche as beare armes shall bring their pieces, swords, pouder and shotte.” The penalty for violating this law was a three shilling fine. In 1632 the law was re-affirmed in these words: “All men that are fittinge to beare arms, shall bring their pieces to the church….”
    Of course, since “all are welcome,” women are now invited to carry also.
    Most colonies had such laws, in response to the threat of Indian attack, but the rationale for congregations being prepared for defense certainly seems unchanged today.

  2. DavidR says:

    One more time:

    “I” am responsible for me and mine.
    “YOU” are responsible for you and yours.

  3. bobbird says:

    An important reminder about the right to self-defense from a Constitutional standpoint:

    1. The 2nd Amendment does not give us any right … thank God! It promises not to interfere with a pre-existing, Natural Law right. Therefore, every single federal gun control law is unconstitutional. Every one. There are NO “reasonable” gun control laws … on the federal level. See this link:

    2. To properly understand the misnamed “Bill of Rights”, it must be understood that STATE governments and constitutions could abrogate, curtail, or define your right to self-defense.

    3. Private property restrictions are sacrosanct. Gun owners don’t like “Gun Free Zone” notices, but should not complain about 2nd Amendment violations.

    4. This ignorance is, of course, enhanced by the illegitimate extensions of the wrongfully-approved 14th Amendment (an entirely different topic). Thus, we have the oxymoronic situation where private bakers and photographers are punished for ignoring supreme court interpretations of the 14th, but “Gun Free Zones” are protected from the 14th’s bogus understandings and applications.

    5. Because the 14th’s phrase “no state shall” has been applied to the states … as in Roe v. Wade, it has then been changed to “No person shall”, a specific point brought up — and dismissed — during the 14th’s approval hearing during the 19th century. Like Hamilton’s disingenuous promises made in The Federalist Papers, such “guarantees” evaporate quickly under liberal control.

    Gun control = Hitting your target.

  4. Antonin says:

    The Geneva Conventions clearly underscore that chaplains have non combat ant roles. the US Navy forbids chaplains from qualifying for weapons. Clearly, the tradition in the military is that houses of worship were neutral spaces and gun free. This makes complete sense. That a church became the site of gun violence points to the overall waning of the sacredness of the Church and the total secularizig of society. The solution is not to further secularize the the church but instead to resacralize the space. If there should be any protection it should be OUTSIDE.

  5. Sonshine135 says:

    I pocket carry my P938 everywhere I legally can, including my house. I certainly carry in church, and have been told by more than a few of my fellow parishioners that Father is very happy that we are out there. Furthermore, I am pretty sure that both of my Deacons are carrying- even when in the Sanctuary. With that being said, I will also point out that a church would be a horrible place to have to draw a weapon and shoot. The main reason being that there are innocent people EVERYWHERE!! A person who draws a weapon needs to be cognizant of not only what they are aiming at, but what is behind their intended target. For that reason, a person carrying in church would be most effective near the entrance of the Nave, in the back row. Possibly, you could also sit near an external entrance coming into the Transept. You want to stop bad things from happening, but you don’t want to kill your fellow Brothers and Sisters in the process.

  6. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    bobbird wrote, “every single federal gun control law is unconstitutional.”

    I believe that keeping guns out of the hands of persons who have been shown to be seriously mentally ill, as well as out of the hands of persons with a history of criminal violence ought to pass Constitutional muster, since the Preamble states the very existence of the Constitution is to ” . . . provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty.” If, violent or mentally unstable persons are allowed to bear firearms, then the aforementioned common defense is compromised, as is the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty.

    Thus the Constitution would seem to *guarantee* to ordinary citizens the right to expect their government to keep arms out of the hands of violent or nutjob individuals or gangs of individuals. This endeavor I not only support wholeheartedly, I demand it of my government.

  7. bobbird says:

    Marian Ancilla:
    Your concern is easily taken care of by your state, if it chooses to do so. And, they do. The 2nd Amendment does NOT say, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless someone is mentally deranged.” The federal power could institute draconian infringements upon us. Imagine, as is done in Europe, having to pass a psychological test before a gun purchase. Who writes the test? What constitutes “mentally ill”? Imagine that in the hands of a Democratic congress, judiciary and executive! Your reading of the Constitution and its preamble is, like most citizens, colored by generations of nationalist premises, precisely what the Constitution was supposed to prevent. Catholic convert Dr. Thomas Woods would be a great assistance to devout Catholics who really want to understand the Constitution properly. He is breezy, entertaining, and spot-on.

  8. KT127 says:


    I see your point.

    But, I remember why my family fled Ireland. No one can promise we will always be safe. We have the right to defend ourselves and our families.

    Even if you had tanks outside, I am still going to carry.

  9. There seems to be this idea that being a Christian means you must not shoot back. The right of self-defense is a natural one, recognized not only in civil law, but in Church teaching as well.

    No one wants there to be any armed conflict in a church — or anyone else, for that matter. But if someone comes to a church to inflict harm, there can be no question of the right — and duty — to stop the aggression. From the Catechism, paragraph 2265: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.”

    Does anyone contest a single word I’ve written so far?

    If not then, the question becomes very simple: on whom, precisely, does the duty fall to stop the aggression? Again, tell me precisely who you expect will do this.

  10. Pingback: MONDAY CATHOLICA EDITION – Big Pulpit

  11. Patrick L. says:

    From a recent news article:

    “‘The policy of prohibiting the open and concealed possession of firearms at our parishes still stands,’ said the Diocese.”

    So, the church is saying you will go to hell if you don’t come to our Mass on Sunday, but our policies render it a criminal act for you to bring along the means to defend yourself from lunatics who are increasingly likely to come and murder you while you are here.

    Am I the only one who sees this as seriously problematic?

  12. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Bobbird, according to the logic you have elucidated, if I understand you aright, it would seem, then, that the State should refrain from placing *any* restrictions or requirements on the rights of the people enumerated in the Constitution, lest they overstep, and we slide into tyranny. Since “the freedom of the press shall not be infringed,” laws against child pornography are unconstitutional, and if the State is permitted to makes laws against it, then the State might make laws against its citizens expressing an unpopular political opinion. Such laws ought not be allowed. And “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” is surely placed at risk by state and local laws requiring permits. I know people who demonstrate from time to time, and argue that their right to assemble guarantees their right to block traffic on the expressway during rush hour. And if the American people tolerate the police removing these individuals who are lying on the asphalt, then the police might also prevent a group of Catholics getting together for a Bible study. And, similarly, should members of Charles Manson’s “family,” now out of prison, wish to purchase 50 each of T-86, T-91 and Special Ops assault rifles, a few hundred grenades, and dozens of boxes of high-capacity magazines, it is right that they should be allowed to do so, because if the government places restrictions on who may possess such firearms, then the government’s next step would likely be to collect and destroy all our guns.

    Have I captured your argument in its essence?

  13. KateD says:

    I saw this…and I like it, especially after reading that terrorists are planing a “Christmas surprise”.

    We just did a unit on 2A. We have a fundamental right to defend ourselves. If you’ve never seen it, Suzanna Gratia Hupp’s testimony is powerful.

  14. KateD says:

    And by the way….

    The right to “keep and bear” is rooted in English law. When James II came into power he maintained a standing army and disarmed those whom he considered a threat. This left them unable to defend themselves adequately. Therefore when William and Mary arrived, the people of England required them to agree to a Bill of Rights. Primary among those rights was the right to “keep and bear arms”.

    We found ourselves in a situation at a church recently (Saturday) that made me realize that it would be good for us to have a family discussion about what to do should a ‘bad guy’ show up during Mass. What should the kids do, what do mom and dad do….that kind of thing. I think perhaps these are good conversations to start having.

    God love ’em for their good intentions, but no member of the Church has the authority to deny our basic right to self defense.

  15. It is probably too late to add this and have others who commented here see it, but here goes:

    – If at any point you honestly feel unsafe attending Holy Mass, and you cannot find a Mass offered at a site within a reasonable distance, where you do feel safe, that would seem to create a “moral impossibility” and would be a legitimate reason to excuse one from the precept to attend Holy Mass. Aside from the question of self-defense, there are those who suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome, and others who experience other sorts of emotional distress, and for them attending Mass in a parish setting, with lots of people, can be extraordinarily difficult.

    – The argument above that the government can never impose any restrictions on an individual’s rights under the Second Amendment is bosh. What the government cannot do is to deny anyone rights without due process. After all, the government can imprison you, and in certain circumstances, execute you (we will set aside for the moment whether this is something the government ought to be able to do). But the government must afford you due process before doing these things.

    Similarly, if as a result of due process, an individual is denied the rights afforded citizens generally under the Second Amendment, this is not an illegitimate action by government. My understanding is that people who are denied permission to buy guns, via background checks, are only those who have been found guilty of specific crimes, or else found to be mentally incompetent, and in both cases, only after due process of law.

  16. dallenl says:

    I wonder if Muslims go to the Mosque armed?

  17. Patrick L. says:

    “If at any point you honestly feel unsafe attending Holy Mass, and you cannot find a Mass offered at a site within a reasonable distance, where you do feel safe, that would seem to create a ‘moral impossibility’ and would be a legitimate reason to excuse one from the precept to attend Holy Mass.”

    Is this based on a code of Canon Law? If so, could you possibly provide a reference to the relevant passage, please? [That observation about “moral impossibility” was correct.]

    I’m uncertain if the above quote is applicable to the aforementioned situations of dioceses that prohibit their parishioners from bringing certain means of self-protection onto parish grounds. If it is, I am hesitant to put my eternal salvation at risk on a “would seem to.” I think I would need a signed document from the bishop before I might take that risk. Since I know I’m not going to get such a document, I think there is still a bit of a conundrum.

    On the other hand, the way things seem to be going with bishops these days, I might put more stock in a signed document from an orthodox canon lawyer.

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